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Beth's Books in 2017 - Part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Beth's Books in 2017 - Part 1.

This topic was continued by Beth's Books in 2017 - Part 3.

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1BLBera
Edited: Feb 13, 9:21pm Top



My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them.

I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes.

I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month. We meet in January and plan our year’s reading.

I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction and more women authors than men. This year, once again, I would like to read more diversely, in every sense of the word. I like to discover new writers.

I would also like to include more volumes of poetry in my 2017 reading.

Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.

2BLBera
Edited: Feb 5, 11:23pm Top

Favorites of 2016
The Noise of Time
The Big Green Tent
Behold the Dreamers
Swing Time
Spain in Our Hearts
My Life on the Road
Human Acts
Moon Tiger
The Hour of Land
The Underground Railroad



Honorable Mention
The Bones of Paradise
News of the World
Mister Monkey
This Must Be the Place
The Improbability of Love

3BLBera
Edited: Mar 31, 8:18pm Top

Goals for 2017

1. I want to finish A Jury of Her Peers - that may take most of the year, but I would like to get through it.

2. At least half of my reading comes from my shelves.

3. I only buy a book if I give one away.

4. Twelve nonfiction reads. ✔✔✔✔💎💎💎💎

5. Twelve poetry volumes.✔✔💎💎

5BLBera
Edited: Mar 31, 8:19pm Top

7BLBera
Edited: Mar 31, 8:18pm Top

Currently Reading

8banjo123
Feb 6, 12:32am Top

Happy new thread!

9Ameise1
Feb 6, 12:41am Top

Happy new thread, Beth. Wishing you a great start into the new week.

10Berly
Feb 6, 1:49am Top

Hi Beth! Happy new thread. I want to know how History of Wolves goes for you because I have it in my TBR pile.

11PaulCranswick
Feb 6, 3:19am Top

Happy new thread, Beth.

12scaifea
Feb 6, 6:51am Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

13drneutron
Feb 6, 9:14am Top

Happy new thread!

14Carmenere
Feb 6, 9:16am Top

Happy new thread, Beth!! Have a lovely week :0)

15Crazymamie
Feb 6, 11:00am Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

16katiekrug
Feb 6, 11:46am Top

I'm intrigued by History of Wolves - can't wait for your report.

Happy new thread!

17BLBera
Feb 6, 1:33pm Top

Hi Rhonda, Barbara, Kim, Paul, Amber, Jim, Lynda, Mamie and Katie. I hope I got everyone.

I will certainly report on History of Wolves when I am finished; the first twenty pages are promising.

18EBT1002
Feb 6, 1:34pm Top

Happy New Thread, Beth!

Back on your prior thread, the theory that mystery novels are our modern morality plays -- very interesting notion. It makes sense to me and I like your question of how the subset of the genre that does not end with good triumphing over evil would fit into that theory. As I think back on my serious mystery-reading days during which I favored John D MacDonald, Ed McBain, Sarah Paretsky, Nevada Barr, Sue Grafton (I lost interest in that series around M), J.A. Jance, Marcia Muller.... they definitely all fell into the triumphant good category. And I kind of lost interest in that genre as I moved through my 20s into my 30s. I still like a good read in that category now and then but I'm much pickier about how the triumph comes about!

Would Jacqueline Winspear fall into the triumphant good category?

On your prior thread you also asked about a timeline for reading Just Mercy. I don't have a set thought about that. And I have to admit that I'm getting myself confused with possible shared reads. I need to start making a note of them near the top of my thread as soon as I make the commitment. Anyway, your thoughts?

19BLBera
Feb 6, 1:42pm Top

Hi Ellen - So, it sounds like you really are going to Portland next month?

Regarding mysteries, I think the line between good and evil is blurred more now in the better ones. Winspear is one of those complex ones; she often discovers the murderer, but the murderer isn't always brought to justice and sometimes even when he/she is, is seen more of an object of pity than a bad person.

I tend to prefer the more complex stories now, but sometimes I need a "good triumphing over evil" story.

I have no ideas about a timeline for Just Mercy; it will depend on when my son-in-law finishes it and gives me his copy. Shall we play it by ear? And if you want to start, go for it. We'll still be friends. :)

I would be interested in a reread of Song of Solomon though. I was thinking I should try to do it for Feb., for Black History month, but I don't think that's going to happen.

20charl08
Feb 6, 2:39pm Top

^^ This is fascinating stuff about morality plays and crime. I was reminded of a Maigret where the villain was let off. It was a bit unsettling, as I wasn't expecting that! It was as if Simenon decided the rules didn't apply. A Polish crime novel I read also messed with my expectations as the investigator had a dubious private life (imho). Made me (makes me) think about the protagonists I expect to read about (why do they have to be sympathetic? They're just solving a crime).

Happy new thread Beth. I'm bouncing your question back to you - what do you think will appear on the long-lost for the no longer Orange prize? I can't remember if Homegoing is eligible this year. It only just came out here.

21EBT1002
Feb 6, 2:44pm Top

Right, Song of Solomon. Let's focus on that first. I don't think I can get to it this month, either. How about March?

22EBT1002
Feb 6, 2:45pm Top

>20 charl08: "...why do they have to be sympathetic? They're just solving a crime."
Love that comment.

23BLBera
Feb 6, 6:13pm Top

>20 charl08: Thanks Charlotte - I think we find comfort in knowing that good will triumph over evil, just as in the morality plays. Today, the mysteries are more complex in some ways, especially since, as you point out, some detectives' lives are far from blameless.

I gave you three ideas on your thread, I think. The rules are that it must be published in the UK between 4/1/16 and 3/31/17. I wasn't sure about publication dates of some of them in the UK. Homegoing, This Must Be the Place, Behold the Dreamer, Swing Time would be some guesses. Now it's your turn.

>21 EBT1002: OK Ellen, March or April should work for Song of Solomon.

24msf59
Feb 6, 6:29pm Top

Happy New Thread, Beth. Love the topper sentiment. Also interested in Whorled. Sounds very interesting.

25BLBera
Feb 6, 6:32pm Top

Hi Mark - Whorled is good - I almost wish I could hear him read them; he's a very dynamic speaker. I'll post some links to some videos of him.

26BLBera
Feb 6, 8:37pm Top

I was reading Journey to Munich at the gym today, and Maisie is asking one of the consular officials how Hitler came to power. The passage chilled me:
"If you're wondering how he has managed to garner such attention, it's twofold. One, he is a very, very powerful speaker. Put him on a stage, and it's as if he can mesmerize everyone -- he's like a cobra, ready to strike."
"What is the other reason for his popularity?"
"Fear...Fear can be used in all sorts of ways to control people, and that's what he's done."

Then, in a following section, she is walking around Munich, feeling "a certain tension in the air. She suspected that the locals might not have the same experience; the atmosphere had changed at a gradual pace, and she knew people would accommodate even the most troubling situations to avoid recognizing an oppressive development."

I worry about the later situation - that this will be our new "normal."

Amazing the insight a novel can give into our current situation...

27EBT1002
Feb 6, 9:16pm Top

>26 BLBera: Yikes.

28AMQS
Feb 6, 9:41pm Top

Yikes, indeed. Our leader is not a good or powerful or mesmerizing speaker, but the rest rings too true, and his supporters do not much care for - or understand big words or great speech. Too scary.

But... happy new thread! We need all the good and light we can get!

29souloftherose
Feb 7, 5:21am Top

Happy new thread Beth!

>26 BLBera: Yes, that is scary.

30BLBera
Feb 7, 4:26pm Top

Hi Ellen, Anne and Heather. Thanks! Books will set us free.

31BLBera
Feb 7, 10:03pm Top


13. Journey to Munich In the latest installment, it is 1938, and Maisie is asked by the Secret Service to go to Munich and bring a British inventor home. I've posted some of the quotes from the novel; people are afraid, and Maisie feels a sense of oppression over the city.

When she returns home and greets her friend Priscilla,who lost all three of her brothers in WWI and is the mother of three sons, Maisie "knew she would never tell the mother of sons what she knew to be true of the future."

The Chicago Tribune says that these novels catch "the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman." Maisie is exceptional, and Winspear captures perfectly the times in which Maisie lives.

This is a series that has maintained its quality.

32DeltaQueen50
Feb 7, 10:25pm Top

Hi Beth, finally getting caught up here, and I took a Book Bullet for Oil on Water and you reminded me that I have a couple of Louise Doughty books on my shelves that need some attention.

33cammykitty
Feb 7, 10:34pm Top

I have the first Maisie on my nook and you've convinced me that I better get around to reading it!

34ronincats
Feb 7, 11:07pm Top

Love that opening quote, Beth. Perfect!

35EBT1002
Feb 8, 12:48am Top

Okay, I have had Maisie Dobbs, the first in the series, on the shelves forever. Time to read it. This month. Or next (two trips in March, so I have this unrealistic fantasy that I'll be able to read 47 books that month).

36charl08
Feb 8, 2:53am Top

Glad Maisie is proving a compelling read. Not glad about the contemporary parallels, clearly.

Swing Time! How did I forget that. And I loved Ali Smith's Autumn too. This time of year reminds me that I must try and read more new writers (and especially new women writers).

37BLBera
Feb 8, 12:05pm Top

Hi Judy - I hope you are feeling better. Doughty can write; Black Water is the first novel of hers that I've read.

>33 cammykitty: I think you would like Maisie, Katie.

>34 ronincats: Thanks Roni.

>35 EBT1002: Hah, Ellen. I know what you mean. I have a pile of books to read for Black History month, which is already almost half over... I think you would like Maisie; Winspear is great at developing character.

>36 charl08: Yes, Charlotte, it was disturbing to read this book now. The copyright was 2016, so I don't think she purposefully made the comparison.

I haven't read Autumn yet -- or any Ali Smith. I must fix that. I did reserve that one at the library. I know what you mean by reading first authors. The Orange Prize has been good to them.

38BLBera
Feb 8, 12:31pm Top

Great article - I hope Sec. DeVos is reading stuff like this.

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/02/08/513902272/the-number-of-hungry-and-hom...

39NanaCC
Feb 8, 3:02pm Top

>31 BLBera: I am one behind you in the Maisie Dobbs series, Beth. You remind me that I should get back to it.

40BLBera
Feb 8, 3:50pm Top

Hi Colleen - I think there's a new one coming out soon, too.

41BLBera
Feb 8, 8:56pm Top

I just started Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and I am in love! The first few essays are fabulous; I will be quoting from them a lot. Some memorable quotes in just the first few pages:
Why feminism matters:

"The cultural climate is shifting, particularly for women as we contend with the retrenchment of reproductive freedom, the persistence of rape culture, and the flawed if not damaging representations women we're consuming in music, movies, and literature."

"Movies, more often than not, tell the stories of men as if men's stories are the only stories that matter. When women are involved, they are side-kicks, the romantic interests, the afterthoughts. Rarely do women get to be the center of attention. Rarely do our stories get to matter."

About Blacks on TV:
"If you watch BET, you get the sense that the only way black people succeed is through professional sports, music, or marrying/f*#*ing/being a baby mama of someone who is involved with professional sports or music."

I could go on and on, but Gay is funny, thoughtful and relevant. I started reading her essays at the gym, and already am thinking how I could use some of them in the classroom.

She also talks about teaching and reaching students, especially students of color who are underprepared. That really speaks to me as I am delivering some can openers to our food shelf tomorrow; we have food, but have discovered that some students have no utensils or pots and pans.

42FAMeulstee
Feb 9, 9:50am Top

>41 BLBera: Roxane Gay sounds good, Beth, I like the quotes.

43lit_chick
Feb 9, 10:18am Top

Hi Beth, love your topper!

44michigantrumpet
Feb 9, 2:15pm Top

I wish I could get back on the Maisie Dobbs love train. Winspear lost me in A Dangerous Place with her shenanigans with all the off-screen happenings in the first 18 pages. You do write a great review, though of the Munich book. I always loved Priscilla - she has such a good heart and pragmatic outlook. I worry for her boys.

Great quotes from Ms. Gay.

45TadAD
Feb 9, 5:59pm Top

>31 BLBera: Darn! I haven't read a Winspear in 5 or 6 years. It looks like the last one was Pardonable Lies. I'll have to dig out the next.

46Carmenere
Feb 9, 7:31pm Top

One of these days, I will read Maisie Dobbs. I will! It's bugging me that I have so many other to get to first. One day!

47BLBera
Feb 9, 8:47pm Top

Thanks Anita - I hope all the essays are as good as the first ones.

Thanks Nancy.

>44 michigantrumpet: I know, Marianne - it felt a little like jumping the shark. Gay is great - I loved her novel, and her essays are winners, so far, as well.

>45 TadAD: Hi Tad - I had taken a break from Maisie as well, and then Nancy's comments made me pick her up again.

>46 Carmenere: The lament of the LTer, Lynda.

48BLBera
Edited: Feb 15, 3:23pm Top


14. History of Wolves
Linda lives with her parents in an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Minnesota. The three of them are the only ones left of a commune. Called Commie or Freak at school, Linda lives a lonely life. When people build a house across the lake from her cabin, Linda befriends the residents, Patra and her four-year-old son Paul.

Linda tells the story of the time she was fifteen from a distance of twenty years. She looks with regret at both a loss of innocence and of the forest that was her home.

A beautiful, haunting novel with a solid sense of place and an engaging protagonist, it reminds us that we need to do more to protect our children.

49msf59
Feb 9, 9:09pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Beth. Good review of History of Wolves. That one is back on my list.

I have wanted to read Bad Feminist for awhile now. Glad you are enjoying it.

50BLBera
Feb 9, 9:11pm Top

Gay has a great sense of humor, Mark.

Have a wonderful Friday.

51BLBera
Feb 9, 9:12pm Top

I'm rereading Jane Eyre, but to celebrate Black History month, I am going to read March: Book Three

52EBT1002
Feb 9, 9:25pm Top

>41 BLBera: Okay, I've had that on my wish list for quite a while now. So I will get it.

Aaaahh!! Your thread is dangerous. I want History of Wolves. And I want to read the March Graphics.....

Oh well. In good time.

53BLBera
Feb 9, 9:51pm Top

>52 EBT1002: Tee hee. Turn about. You will LOVE Gay.

54katiekrug
Feb 9, 10:04pm Top

History of Wolves goes on the list!

55EBT1002
Feb 10, 11:54am Top

56BLBera
Edited: Feb 10, 12:01pm Top

Hi Katie. She writes beautifully. I can't wait to see what she does next.

Happy Friday to you, Ellen. It's a Scout day, so we are having a good time. Making forts, drawing pictures, etc.

57charl08
Feb 10, 4:21pm Top

So added History of Wolves to the wishlist. Sounds like a fun day with Scout. Any low kit games you'd recommend? I tried blocks, colouring in, play dough and wind up cars in the library this afternoon and I am out of ideas! Fortunately the two I was helping were quite keen to make up their own...

58BLBera
Feb 10, 7:38pm Top

Scout likes Legos, drawing, puzzles. I just play it by ear. She loves playing outside and sometimes we toss around balls.

59Berly
Feb 10, 8:52pm Top

History of Wolves is howling at me to be read!!! Moving it up the pile. Again.

60BLBera
Feb 10, 9:14pm Top

It's really good, heartbreaking, but good.

61lit_chick
Feb 10, 11:27pm Top

Excellent comments on History of Wolves, Beth. Sounds like an author to watch for.

62Ameise1
Feb 11, 3:32am Top

Just noticed tha my local library has got a copy of History of Wolves. Put it on the list.
Hapy weekend, Beth.

63msf59
Edited: Feb 11, 7:01am Top

Happy Saturday, Beth! Enjoy the weekend and I hope you can fit in some reading.

64BLBera
Feb 11, 9:46am Top

Hi Nancy, Barbara and Mark.

I will definitely be reading student essays. :)

65susanj67
Feb 11, 9:48am Top

Beth, sorry about those essays :-(

I started Land of Love and Drowning this afternoon. I was sure that your thread was the first place I'd seen it. But it did seem familiar...I looked up my books on LT and discovered that I'd read it in 2015. D'oh!

66BLBera
Feb 11, 9:50am Top


15. March: Book Three These graphic memoirs should be required reading in all schools. John Lewis' story is inspiring - it shows how one person can make a difference. This is important reading now, when our laws and constitution are being challenged. The commitment to non-violence, to take the high road, is an important message.

This last book covers the time from the church bombings in Montgomery to the signing of the Voter Rights Act.

The drawings work well with the text. I'm so glad Lewis decided to do this.

67charl08
Edited: Feb 11, 10:50am Top

>66 BLBera: I want to read this one. Must pester the library again.

Have you come across American Street? It appeals to me (but not out yet here). The blurb says: In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

68BLBera
Feb 11, 11:11am Top

I haven't come across American Street, but it sounds great. I am going to check to see if my library has it. Speaking of the library, I logged into my account yesterday, and had seven books waiting for me. I know that will make some of you feel good, so I admit it, I have a library problem.

Coincidentally, I tutored a student from Haiti on Thursday. She left after the earthquake.

I picked up Brown Girl Dreaming, and it is perfect timing after the Lewis book. Woodson was born in 1963.

69Carmenere
Feb 11, 1:40pm Top

OOOOO! I brought home March: Book One for the same reason! Perhaps I can wedge that on in today. YUp! can do!
Have a good one!

70BLBera
Feb 11, 4:10pm Top

>65 susanj67: We must have been posting at the same time, Susan. So far the essays are looking good. I started with the best class. :)

I'm laughing about Land of Love and Drowning - before LT I had a hard time keeping track of what I'd read. Now, if I could just finish cataloging all my books. I need someone more obsessive than I am to come for a visit...

Enjoy the Lewis, Lynda. Each one is better than the last.

71Berly
Feb 12, 2:19am Top

>70 BLBera: Beth--When you find that obsessive person interested in cataloging, could you please send them my way? LOL. And today my library informed me that one loan had expired (and, not, I never got to it) and another one is available (and, no, I am not ready for that one either!).

72charl08
Feb 12, 4:20am Top

Oh man. A book cataloguing 'holiday' sounds pretty much perfect to me. Seven books waiting sounds good too!

73susanj67
Feb 12, 4:31am Top

>70 BLBera: Beth, if you tell me there's a barcode scanner, I'll be there tomorrow :-)

74DianaNL
Feb 12, 8:31am Top

75BLBera
Feb 12, 12:20pm Top

Kim - What problems we have, right? :)

Well, Charlotte, just let me know when you're going to show up. Autumn is one of the new library books; it looks good; but I do have to finish some others first.

Sorry Susan, no barcode scanner. Although maybe I can add an app to my phone?? My door is open.

Thanks Diane. I hope your Sunday is full of fun.

76msf59
Feb 12, 12:38pm Top

Happy Sunday, Beth! Windy here but very mild. We will take this February weather.

Hooray for the march Trilogy! What an achievement.

77BLBera
Feb 12, 12:54pm Top

Yes, this weather works for me. I don't like the wind, but I won't complain, at least too much.

Lewis is inspiring.

78BLBera
Edited: Feb 12, 5:07pm Top

I finally say "Hidden Figures." It was amazing. I'll definitely pick up the book.

79cbl_tn
Feb 12, 8:20pm Top

Journey to Munich is next up for me in the Maisie Dobbs series. I'll get to it sometime this year. So far I haven't liked the books that lean more toward espionage as well as the crime-solving books in the series. Maybe it will grow on me.

80AMQS
Feb 12, 10:57pm Top

Making forts, drawing pictures, etc. Sounds like a perfect Scout day!

>38 BLBera: I doubt she has read this or anything like it. Or is even interested in it. I am glad for the read, though so thank you.

Have a great week!

81EBT1002
Feb 13, 11:00am Top

I can't wait to get to the March series. Our RLBG chose to read it in March but I sort of wish we had thought to do it this month, for Black History Month. Anyway, I have it to look forward to. I'm also sort of wishing I had bought the three of them in that little bookstore I visited in Tampa.

I'm tucked up in bed today, sick with a nasty cold. I hate not being able to breathe. Abby likes that I'm home (she is sitting next to me purring) but she hates the laptop. It interferes with her snuggling up next to me for a nap.

I'm going to keep reading in The Unwinding today and also plan to start The Round House.

It's sunny and springlike here today. Too bad I don't feel up to getting outside to enjoy it.

Have a great week, Beth!

82nittnut
Feb 13, 12:13pm Top

Hi Beth! I've got the March series wishlisted. I am going to wait and buy the series so I've got it and read it to the kids.

83BLBera
Feb 13, 8:44pm Top

Hi Carrie - I hope you're feeling better. Hmm. I hadn't thought about Maisie in terms of crime v. espionage. I thought Journey to Munich was really good, some thoughtful parts about the coming war.

You're welcome, Anne. And you're probably right about our Sec. of Ed. Yes, everyday is a perfect Scout day. Next Friday is my book club day, so she'll go with me. I imagine we'll have to ride the bus - she loves public transportation.

Ellen, you will love the March books. Each one is better than the previous one. I hope you feel better soon. Sending wishes for health your way. It's supposed to be be 50 here by the end of the week!

Jenn - It will be great to read the March books with your kids.

84BLBera
Feb 13, 8:49pm Top


16. Brown Girl Dreaming
At first I wasn't sure about a memoir written in verse, but once I started reading, it drew me in. I can't imagine it any other way. The format worked beautifully, and the language is wonderful. Two of my favorite bits, surprisingly enough are about language and stories.

I cannot write a word yet but at three,
I now know the letter J
love the way it curves into a hook
that I carefully top with a straight hat
the way my sister has taught me to do. Love
the sound of the letter and the promise
that one day this will be connected to a full name...

And

It's easier to make up stories
than it is to write them down. When I speak,
the words come pouring out of me. The story
wakes up and walks all over the room. Sits in a chair,
crosses one leg over the other, says,
Let me introduce myself. Then just starts going on and on...

I can't wait to read this gem to Scout.

85BLBera
Edited: Feb 13, 9:22pm Top

Another book I'm going to read for Black History Month is The Defender. It might take me awhile.

And yes, I changed my topper. I wanted something more springy.

86vancouverdeb
Feb 13, 11:27pm Top

OOoh! Love your topper! Happy New Thread, Beth. Sorry I am so late to the party.

87banjo123
Feb 14, 12:06am Top

I want to get to the March books. Maybe February is a good excuse?

88SandDune
Feb 14, 2:45am Top

Is your topper from How to Live Forever by Colin Thompson? It reminds me a lot of the illustrations in that book but we don't have it any more for me to check.

89Berly
Feb 14, 5:49am Top

>85 BLBera: I am reading Invisible Man for Black History Month. Actually I am listening to it and the narrator does such a great job that it is heart wrenching and I can only listen to a bit at a time.

90EBT1002
Feb 14, 11:02am Top

I love your revised topper, Beth.

I'm home sick again today. Still feeling pretty "punk," as P would say. But I hope to be able to read some and that is a consolation.

I'm glad you enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming. I thought it was really special.

I've put March: Book One on hold at the library but I am feeling the urge to own this trilogy. I may have to put it on my Powell's wish list for next month.

91charl08
Feb 14, 4:06pm Top

>84 BLBera: Love those quotes. I'm still waiting on this from the library. Hurry UP already, reservation system!

92BLBera
Feb 14, 11:34pm Top

>86 vancouverdeb: It's never too late, Deborah. Welcome.

>87 banjo123: Or March for the March books, Rhonda. Any excuse is a good one. They are great, and each is better than the previous one.

>88 SandDune: I don't know where the illustration originally comes from, Rhian. I just googled images books. I'll have to check out that book and see.

Hey Kim - What a great choice. I was thinking I should reread Invisible Man; it's been years.

Thanks Ellen. I'm sorry you're still sick. Take care and get well. Brown Girl Dreaming was great, and it worked really well to read it right after reading March: Book Three. You will want to own the books. Great idea for your Powell's list. I guess I'd better start my list as well.

Hi Charlotte. You will love it. I hope you get it soon.

93msf59
Feb 16, 6:56pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Beth! And hooray for Brown Girl Dreaming!

FYI- The books are in the mail.

94BLBera
Feb 16, 7:05pm Top

Thanks Mark. Since I don't have class on Friday, and it's my Scout day, this is always a happy day for me. Thanks for the books. I will return the favor one of these days.

95rosalita
Feb 16, 9:01pm Top

Hi, Beth! I hope you have a great weekend. It is supposed to be in the 60s here, if you can believe that. Such strange weather this winter, but I'm not complaining. Yet. :-)

96BLBera
Feb 17, 8:35am Top

Hey Julia - Hooray for a warm Feb. Our temps are supposed to be in the 50s today. No complaints -- unless we hit 100 in May!

Anyway, it will be a nice day for Scout and I to be out and about.

97DeltaQueen50
Feb 17, 1:01pm Top

Hi Beth, enjoy your Friday with Scout! :)

98cammykitty
Feb 17, 1:15pm Top

>41 BLBera: I never thought about can openers! Or pots and pans. And of course, most of the food at the food shelf and most inexpensive foods require some sort of cooking.

Bad Feminist sounds good and also March: Book Three.

99BLBera
Feb 17, 2:50pm Top

Thanks Judy. She went to our book group. We were talking about Jane Eyre, and Scout even contributed. She mentioned that she has a cousin named Charlotte. :)

I know, Katie. More and more I realize that I don't understand poverty. I've mostly been taking peanut butter and soup that doesn't require a can opener.

I am loving Bad Feminist, and all of the March books were wonderful.

100michigantrumpet
Feb 17, 3:04pm Top

So glad you enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming. It was literally thrust into my hands by someone who knows me. Very well, it seems, because I was completely taken with it.

101BLBera
Feb 17, 3:17pm Top

Scout is taking an uncharacteristic nap, so I am trying to catch up on LT.

>100 michigantrumpet: Yes, Marianne. Brown Girl Dreaming is perfect; I loved, loved, loved it. It's one I will save for Scout.

102Carmenere
Feb 17, 3:42pm Top

Hey Beth! Glad you enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming. It has been on my wishlist for awhile and then forgot about it. Thanks for refreshing my memory.
Hope you have a reasonable amount of time to catch up!

103BLBera
Feb 17, 4:39pm Top

It's a beautiful book, Lynda. You will love it. Yes, Scout is taking a long nap. Grandma read some and snoozed a bit, too.

104nittnut
Edited: Feb 17, 8:11pm Top

>84 BLBera: I LOVED Brown Girl Dreaming, and although it was a little odd at first, I think the verse fits the story perfectly.

Several years ago, I read another book with an interesting verse format like that - I believe it was a YA book. Vietnamese refugees maybe? Must go see if I can find it. Then I can tell you and you can read it. If you want. LOL

ETA: Inside Out and Back Again

105lit_chick
Feb 17, 8:46pm Top

Way to go, Scout, discussing Jane Eyre : ).

106BLBera
Feb 17, 9:53pm Top

Thanks Jenn. I will look for that one.

Yes, Nancy, as I am always saying, she is a prodigy. I just finished telling her mom about it, and she thought it was pretty funny.

107BLBera
Feb 18, 12:09pm Top

My ER copy of New Boy arrived! Can't wait to read the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

108charl08
Feb 18, 12:55pm Top

Ooh, that sounds tempting Beth. Does it have to wait in a queue or will you jump straight in?

Love Scout's sayings. She'did make a lovely star of one of those lit and art referencing picture books.

109BLBera
Feb 18, 3:27pm Top

Well, Charlotte, we will see. I have a huge stack of library books right now, so it may have to wait a couple of weeks.

Scout is a star; you are right about that.

110AMQS
Feb 18, 3:36pm Top

Oh, there's Brown Girl Dreaming again! I have it on display right now, and NEED to read it!

Hope you're having a great week.

111BLBera
Feb 18, 3:37pm Top

I hope your weekend is stellar as well, Anne.

You will LOVE Brown Girl Dreaming.

112EBT1002
Feb 19, 12:14am Top

>107 BLBera: I put in for an ER copy of New Boy, Beth. I haven't actually yet read any in the Hogarth series but that one is particularly appealing to me. I'll be interested in your thoughts.

Upon finishing the magnificent The Round House and the also-excellent The Unwinding, I have picked up His Bloody Project, a library book for which I was in the queue forever. So far, it's plenty engaging.

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday, Beth! After two lovely days (Thursday and Friday) we have been having gray and drizzly weather. I hope to go for a run tomorrow morning and then we have tickets to see a matinee of "Pajama Game" at the 5th Avenue Theater. I know nothing about this show but we are season ticket holders and this is part of the season....

113BLBera
Feb 19, 10:03am Top

Ellen, if you don't get a copy of New Boy, let me know. I've been passing these on when I finish them.

I knew you would like The Round House; I'm just preparing lesson plans for teaching it; we'll start after spring break, which is coming up fast.

I hope your Sunday is wonderful as well. I'm going to a play with friends as well. I forget the title. I hope to get some school work done before I go. So, a quick visit to LT, then to work.

114BLBera
Edited: Feb 19, 10:14am Top


18. Today Will Be Different
Today will be different Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I'll play a board game with Timmy. I'l initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I'll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend.

The narrator protagonist of Today Will Be Different, Eleanor Flood, wants to be a better person. As she approaches fifty, she is not happy with herself. Eleanor seems to have it all, a career doing something she loves, a husband who makes a lot of money as a hand surgeon and physician for the Seahawks, and a son she loves. She recognizes that her problems are not world shaking: "You're trying to figure out, why the agitated surrounding one normal day of white people problems?" The fact that she recognizes this allowed me to not view her as a whiner. And, as we move through her day, we learn about her past and why she is the way she is.

It's a fun journey; Eleanor is hilarious. But, while a light-hearted novel, I, at least, can also identify with her.

Semple does some cool things with the book design as well. There's an insert, in color, of a graphic memoir that Eleanor drew, as well as drawings and annotated poems throughout.

Seattle is very much a character as well: "A mob of Seahawks fans blocked the way to the bakery. Racks of cupcakes were being rolled out, a dozen to a shrink-wrapped sheet, each frosted blue with a green 12. Across the aisle, a bigger mob swarming cupcakes decorated with Pope hats, also with the number 12. The only thing you need to know about Seattle? Nobody was offended." (The Pope was coming to visit.)

I really enjoyed following Eleanor for a day.

115susanj67
Feb 19, 11:59am Top

Beth, I loved Scout's contribution to your book group :-) And a bus ride!

The Maria Semple sounds like it might be worth investigating. I still haven't read the Bernadette one, but I think the library has it.

I hope the play was good.

116EBT1002
Feb 19, 3:24pm Top

>114 BLBera: I need to read her first novel and then get to this one. The fact that "Seattle is very much a character as well" ought to make it a fun read for me!

117charl08
Feb 19, 5:26pm Top

>114 BLBera: I enjoyed this one, although I think 'Bernadette' was a more charming read. This seemed a bit darker.

Wishing you a good week.

118lit_chick
Feb 19, 8:08pm Top

Beth, appreciate your rebew of Today Will be Different. I think I would enjoy this one: sounds a bit quirky, like Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

119cammykitty
Feb 19, 10:16pm Top

From your review of Today Will Be Different, I think I recognize Eleanor too. She's trying not to let the lack of energy blah part of life take control. Sounds like living with mild depression.

New Boy? Sounds like a different one than I'm reading. New Boy by Julian Houston which is really good so far, but I've got to drag it out because I'm reading it with a group of 6th graders. They are kind of fun to read it with. "Coleman Hawkins was for real." "Really? I'm at the part where he meets Malcolm X. At least I think it's Malcolm X." "It is!"

120BLBera
Feb 20, 9:32am Top

Hi Susan - I have loved both Semple books. I think Bernadette is more light-hearted. Yes, Scout loves her bus rides. This time she also got to pull the wire for the stop sign. The play was a one-woman play called "Bad Dates." It was very good.

Ellen - Semple is "quirky," as Charlotte says. I think you have to be in the right mood. Still, you should try them.

Charlotte - I think Today Will Be Different is more thought-provoking than Bernadette? Or maybe it's because the protagonist is an older woman, so there was more I could identify with. But, Bernadette is charming, and I like the way Semple plays with the medium.

Hi Katie - the New Boy I have is a retelling of Othello. How fun to read with sixth graders. Do they appreciate you?

121katiekrug
Feb 20, 10:31am Top

Hi Beth! I love Scout's contribution to the book group discussion :)

I have the new Semple saved on audio, but your comments about the format make me think I need to find a print version... Currently, I am re-visiting Bernadette on audio for a new book club on Friday evening.

Have a good week!

122BLBera
Feb 20, 11:16am Top

Hi Katie - Happy Monday. How is the working at home going, overall?

Yes, I think you need a print version of the sample; I was reading it on an e-reader, and some of the illustrations were too tiny to read. I wonder what they would do about the illustrations with no captions? There are a couple. I loved Bernadette!

What can I say? Scout is a prodigy. :)

123banjo123
Feb 20, 9:46pm Top

Scout is such a cutie!

I might try the new Maria Semple. I liked Bernadette for the first 100 pages, but then got too bored to finish it.

124Crazymamie
Feb 21, 1:00pm Top

Happy Tuesday, Beth! Stopping in to catch up with you, and as usual, you Scout story made me smile.

125katiekrug
Feb 21, 9:52pm Top

>122 BLBera: - Working from home is okay. I think my boss kind of hates it, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if he decides not to let me continue after this trial period (until the end of March) is over. We shall see...

126EBT1002
Feb 22, 1:23am Top

Hi Beth! Happy Wednesday!

127TadAD
Feb 22, 6:00pm Top

>114 BLBera: I liked what you wrote but then I went and read other reviews. So many people felt that it started strong and then fell a bit flat. Do you think it ended as well as it began?

128BLBera
Feb 22, 8:12pm Top

Hi Rhonda - Yes, she is pretty cute. The new Maria Semple has a more serious note than Bernadette, I think. The protagonist is approaching fifty and, while she is very funny, she also has some real concerns about meaning in her life. But I did really like Bernadette, as well...

Mamie - Of course. Scout is very smile-worthy. She stopped by for a bit yesterday. She fixed my hair because it was in my eyes. My daughter told me I looked demented. The funny thing is I have come very close to leaving the house with ten hair clips making little pony tails. One of these days, I will find myself in the supermarket, wondering why people are looking at me strangely...

Well, Katie, good luck with the continued working at home. Fingers crossed.

Hi Ellen, Happy Wednesday-almost-Thursday to you.

Hi Tad - The book's tone changes a bit at the end, but I didn't think that made it fall flat. I did like the way it ended -- but that's me.

129BLBera
Feb 22, 8:14pm Top

Great day at school today. Stephen Kurkjian, of the Boston Globe, came and talked about the Gardner heist; and I got an autographed copy of his book Master Thieves! He also talked about investigative journalism and its importance. He was an early member of Spotlight. He's not a Trump fan. :)

130Crazymamie
Feb 22, 10:59pm Top

>128 BLBera: Too funny, Beth! That brings back a memory from when my oldest niece was about Scout's age - I was just a teenager then. I was over at my sister's house with Stephanie (my niece) and my BIL - I can't remember why my sister wasn't there. I think she must have run an errand or something. Anyway, Steph was doing her Dad's hair, and she had all these little girlie clips and things in there, and then the doorbell rang. The look of complete horror on her Dad's face! Priceless. I can still see him looking at me wildly and asking if I would take care of whoever was at the door. Cost him five bucks, but he got to save face. Good times.

131coppers
Feb 22, 11:38pm Top

>114 BLBera: I'm going to have to give that one another chance. I only read the first few pages and never went back to it.

>129 BLBera: Oh wow! That must have been great!

132EBT1002
Feb 23, 12:29am Top

>129 BLBera: That sounds wonderful! I'm very interested in how various journalists are navigating - and talking about navigating - the current climate for them. Conservative or liberal, I think many of them feel that their profession is at a crossroads in our society.

I recommend this excellent lecture (transcript) by Bret Stephens as published in Time magazine earlier this week. He is a relatively conservative thinker. The lecture is moving and thought-provoking in the very best sense.

Happy Thursday, Beth!

133susanj67
Feb 23, 4:45am Top

>128 BLBera: Beth, I love the Scout story :-) And you never know, if you *did* go out like that, you might find you got a supermarket queue all to yourself. Definitely a seat on the bus :-)

>129 BLBera: That sounds great! I had to look up the book to see what the Gardner heist was but it sounds interesting. I hope the students were inspired.

134rosalita
Feb 23, 6:47am Top

>128 BLBera: Now I'm giggling to myself picturing you showing up at the next LT Meetup with your Scout 'do!

135msf59
Feb 23, 7:13am Top

Morning, Beth! Sweet Thursday! Glad you got the books! Hope you enjoy them.

136lit_chick
Feb 23, 10:51am Top

LOL @ your Scout 'do. Let's have a photo, please, hehe : ).

137Ameise1
Feb 23, 11:36am Top

>129 BLBera: Lucky girl, that must have been a fantastic event.

I love all your Scout stories.

Sweet Thursday, Beth.

138nittnut
Feb 23, 11:51am Top

De-lurking to wave hello. *wave*

139BLBera
Edited: Feb 23, 9:49pm Top

Wow! I can't keep up. I was thinking my thread would be quiet because I haven't finished any books lately.

>130 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie. Actually, I think there are some pics of Dad with flowers in his hair. :)
>131 coppers: Hi Joanne - The Kurkjian talk was fascinating. I can't wait to read his book. He was so nice. When he signed it, he told me his email was on the back and that when I go to Boston to let him know and he will give me a "heist" tour.

>132 EBT1002: Hi Ellen. I got the impression that Kurkjian finds the "enemy of the people" comments offensive, and I imagine many journalists feel that way. It's not an easy job.

Well off to a town hall meeting for my representative. I'll report back.

140BLBera
Feb 23, 9:55pm Top

>133 susanj67: I never thought of it that way, Susan. I'll have to give it a try -- or not -- it's going to happen one of these days.

>134 rosalita: You never know, Julia. I might set a new fashion trend.

>135 msf59: Thanks Mark. Happy Thursday to you. Do you have snow headed your way. They're forecasting a foot for us. Snow day tomorrow.

>136 lit_chick: Not going to happen Nancy. :)

>137 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Kurkjian was a great speaker. Scout is always fun.

> 138 Hi Jenn -- Got everything packed?

Town hall meeting was long. But our representative is a good guy. We had some paid protestors in the audience :), but he quieted the boos and was respectful. Lots of ACA and immigration questions.

141coppers
Feb 23, 10:04pm Top

Our senators and representatives are in hiding. I love seeing Cory Gardner getting national press for his ducking. Nice of yours to show up!

142BLBera
Feb 24, 9:12am Top

Tim Walz is a democrat, and a good guy. Yes, I've seen some of the stories about reps who seem to have disappeared, including Paul Ryan.

143BLBera
Feb 24, 10:44am Top

Snow Day - I'm trying to work up the will to go out and shovel - we're supposed to get more, double the amount we already have, so I'd best get to it.

144Ameise1
Feb 24, 11:11am Top

It looks like spring is far away.

145Oberon
Feb 24, 11:43am Top

>143 BLBera: I am astonished by the contrast of being slightly north. Everything is dry and empty.

146lit_chick
Feb 24, 11:47am Top

Whoa! I'll say you're having a snow day! Ours thankfully is almost gone, and we had a LOT this winter for in-town. By February, I'm waiting on July ... to heck with more snow, LOL.

147charl08
Feb 24, 2:25pm Top

Wow. Hope it melts soon Beth. I was really pleased that our storm blew over quickly. Next door had tiles down but we seem to be OK.

148BLBera
Feb 24, 2:52pm Top

Yes, Barbara, spring is not close today.

Hi Erik - You didn't get ANY snow? No fair. It's heavy stuff, too, with a cold north wind. Now it's coming down again. Luckily I cleared a small path on the sidewalk. I'll have to go out again later.

Hi Nancy - I think this is going to be around for a while, but Scout and I are snug. We just made some cookies.

Thanks Charlotte. I think next week is supposed to be snowy, so I think this will stick around for a while. Good weather to stay indoors and read.

149Oberon
Feb 24, 5:43pm Top

>148 BLBera: Sorry - not enough to even put any white on the grass. It is cold and that is it.

150BLBera
Edited: Feb 24, 8:41pm Top

Well, Erik, if you want to do some shoveling, I'll furnish hot chocolate. :)

This is TOTALLY unrelated to our feet of snow, but this afternoon we also made reservations for St. Croix the week after Christmas: my daughter, son-in-law, Scout, and I are going.

151Oberon
Feb 24, 8:46pm Top

>150 BLBera: I am guessing the Virgin Island and the county in Wisconsin?

Sorry about the shoveling. Sadly I am stuck chaperoning five 12 year old girls. The shoveling would undoubtedly be more peaceful and perhaps less work.

152nittnut
Feb 24, 9:15pm Top

All that snow. Wow. And here we have magnolias blooming and trees leafing out, and it's kind of freaking me out. Spring is very welcome though, since we've just done two consecutive winters. :)

153BLBera
Feb 25, 9:52am Top

Yes, Erik, the Virgin Island. I don't know; the snow was pretty heavy. But I think it stopped earlier than predicted. My son-in-law shoveled yesterday around six, and there isn't too much to do today, except, of course, the mountain the snow plow left at the end of my driveway.

It sounds like paradise, Jenn.

154BLBera
Edited: Feb 25, 9:58am Top


19. Jane Eyre is a novel I have read many times. Perhaps this time, there has been the longest gap between reads. One thing I question on this reading is the ending. It ends with St. John, which is curious. Jane goes from "Reader, I married him," to a discussion of St. John's faith. Curious.

I still think the huge attraction for me is Jane's strong sense of self. She never bows to authority when she thinks it's in the wrong, even though she is really in no position to resist. Wonderful novel.

155drneutron
Feb 25, 11:16am Top

Oooo, St Croix! mrsdrneutron and I vacationed in St Thomas with a day excursion to St John a few years back and loved the islands. Though it turns out she's not one for snorkeling. :)

156lit_chick
Feb 25, 11:39am Top

I didn't notice that about the ending of Jane Eyre, which can only mean I'm due for a reread too, Beth. Agree wholly about Jane's wonderfully strong sense of self.

157BLBera
Feb 25, 3:47pm Top

Jim - I am excited. I've only been to Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; my kids loved St. Thomas when they went, and a friend recommended St. Croix.

Nancy - We usually think the marriage ends Jane Eyre, but there is the puzzle of the last few pages that focus on St. John.

I've been reading The Defender, and Michaeli tells a good story. There's quite a bit of Chicago history here as well. I started it for a Black History Month read, but it's a chunkster, so I don't think I'll finish it this month.

158PaulCranswick
Feb 25, 6:53pm Top

>148 BLBera: Not envying you the cold Beth. It is making me wonder what the heck I am doing planning a move back to grey and dreary UK when I have guaranteed warm weather here 24/7.

Would Jane Eyre be your absolute favourite re-read? Mine is probably Of Mice and Men for its chewability.

Have a lovely weekend.

159charl08
Feb 26, 3:51am Top

That sounds like an awful lot of snow. I'll be sending along melting wishes. Does Scout like to play in it or has she had enough of the snowmen building?

Your holiday destination sounds lovely.

I've not read Jane Eyre in ages. I thought it ended with reader I married him. Clearly due a reread! I liked the short story collection inspired by the book, thinking about different ways things could have happened or inspired by the ideas of the novel. They were all so different - so much to take from the book I think.

160BLBera
Feb 26, 12:36pm Top

That is a good question, Paul. I'm not sure what my favorite reread is. Perhaps The Great Gatsby? When I reread that a few years ago, I was amazed at how much deeper it was than I remembered. It is really wasted on high school students.

Well, I do like the changes of seasons, so I guess I have to put up with cold...

Hi Charlotte- Yes, it was a lot of snow. I like it spread out a bit more. And it was heavy and wet snow as well, good heart-attack snow. Scout loves to play in the snow, which is good because winter lasts a long time here.

I always skimmed over the last couple of pages when she talks about St. John, but this time I stopped to think a bit. Interesting that she ended on a religious, evangelical note.

I am reading Autumn now and blown away. I remember you loved this, correct? I'm having to be really disciplined and do my school work before I sit down with it.

161streamsong
Feb 26, 12:37pm Top

I've also reread jane Eyre many times since I first read it in high school many years ago. Since being here on LT, I do less rereading because there are always so many wonderful book bullets flying around. It's time to revisit Jane again.

Wow on the snow!

162BLBera
Feb 26, 12:43pm Top

Hi Janet - We were due for some snow; we'd had a great Feb., with warm temps, so I can't complain too much. It IS winter in Minnesota.

I hadn't reread Jane Eyre for years, so it was a nice visit with an old friend. My book club had a great discussion about it. One person had never read it before.

163BLBera
Edited: Feb 26, 9:05pm Top


20. Autumn is a breathtaking novel. Smith uses the metaphor of the seasons to show that humans have always had an incredible capacity for cruelty, yet there is also love and beauty in the world.

While Brexit is never named, she refers to the vote throughout the novel:
All across the country, the country was divided, a fence here, a wall there, a line drawn here, a line crossed there,
a line you don't cross here,
a line you better not cross there,
a line of beauty here,
a line dance there,
a line you don't even know exists here,
a line you can't afford there,
a whole new line of fire,
line of battle,
end of the line,
here/there.

But the divisions do not just apply to Brexit; we can see Trump and his followers here as well, and Smith also takes us back to WWII.

Yet, there is also love and beauty. Daniel Gluck, who is 101, and Elisabeth Demand, in her 40s, have been friends since Elisabeth was a child. Now, as he lies in a nursing home, asleep, Elisabeth visits him every day and reads to him. As she sits with him, she thinks about the seasons they have spent together, and how he opened her eyes to art; her dissertation was about Pauline Boty, whom she learned about from Daniel.

Daniel, asleep, thinks about his sister who was killed in WWII, and what she wrote him: "Hope is exactly that, that's all it is, a matter of how we deal with the negative acts towards human beings by other human beings in the world, remembering that they and we are all human, that nothing human is alien to us..."

Lovely novel. It's my first Smith, too!

164charl08
Feb 26, 5:26pm Top

Glad you liked it Beth. Great review. You make me want to buy it and read it again...

165Berly
Feb 26, 5:36pm Top

I re-read Jane for my RL bookclub this month. It is a marvelous book, a favorite, but I enjoyed it less this time round. I kind of only remembered the middle section from before and was dismayed at how awful the family was to her as a child (I haven't read it since I was a kid) and I thought Mr Rochester a little too manipulative (with the gypsy scene). Still love Jane though! And I'll probably read it again in another 10 years. ; )

166BLBera
Feb 26, 5:36pm Top

Thanks Charlotte - I loved it! I wanted to start reading it again when I finished. I have a couple of other books by her and will try to get to them soon.

Thanks for the recommendation - I think I first heard about it from you? Right?

167coppers
Feb 26, 5:37pm Top

>163 BLBera: I finally started Autumn last night and I think I'm going to love it. Glad to see you did, Beth!

168BLBera
Feb 26, 5:38pm Top

Hi Kim - We're cross posting here. I still loved Jane, but what I was really curious about this time was the ending. She devotes the last two to three pages to St. John. What??

I do like that Brontë doesn't let Jane marry Rochester until he is blind and lame and she is financially independent.

169BLBera
Feb 26, 5:39pm Top

Hi Joanne - I gobbled it up when I should have been grading. Oh well. I'll finish tomorrow. I loved it! I'll watch for your comments.

170SandDune
Feb 26, 5:58pm Top

>163 BLBera: I'm glad you enjoyed Autumn. It was one of my favourites this year as well. Ali Smith's novels always seem to warrant an immediate reread.

171EBT1002
Feb 26, 6:06pm Top

>143 BLBera: Beautiful (easy to say from this distance).

Adding Autumn to my wish list.

172BLBera
Feb 26, 8:03pm Top

Hi Rhian - I thought that you had also reviewed Autumn favorably. It was just beautiful.

Hi Ellen - It is pretty, and now that I have shoveled and the streets are passable, I don't mind it. You will love Autumn; Smith is a virtuoso.

173msf59
Feb 26, 9:35pm Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. I hope you had a good weekend.

So glad to hear you loved Autumn. I have heard nothing but great things about that one. Sounds like one of the very best of '17...so far.

174charl08
Feb 27, 2:16am Top

Great to pop back and see the enthusiasm for Autumn - I love that when a book travels the threads. Not sure if I was the one who mentioned it first though.

I think Mark is right - and I hope the Orange prize judges notice too!

175rosalita
Edited: Feb 27, 6:53am Top

>163 BLBera: Lovely review, Beth — I've given you a thumb on the book page. I have only read one Ali Smith, There But For The and it was captivating. I lov the way she plays with language. I will put this one near the top of the wishlist!

176katiekrug
Feb 27, 12:33pm Top

I have yet to read anything by ALi Smith. Maybe Autumn needs to go on The List...

177BLBera
Feb 27, 6:44pm Top

Happy Monday, Mark. I hope this week holds lovely weather for you. Yup, Autumn is one of the best of the year so far.

I think I heard about it from you first, Charlotte, and if I didn't, you can still take credit. Interesting. Orange long list next week... Still no predictions?

Thanks very much, Julia. I rarely post reviews there, but this one didn't have many posted, it so deserves attention. I think in a recent interview she said that There But For The is her favorite. I have that on my shelves; I will get to it this year, and yes, she does have a way with language.

Hi Katie - Happy Monday. You are batching it this week, correct? Have a great week with lots of reading. You would like Ali Smith, I think.

178Ameise1
Feb 28, 2:19am Top

I've read 'There but for the' last year and it's a fantastic book. Enjoy it.
Happy Tuesday, Beth.

179TadAD
Edited: Feb 28, 6:04pm Top

>154 BLBera: Can you imagine that I've never read Jane Eyre? I supposed I ought to correct that deficiency immediately.

180BLBera
Feb 28, 7:26pm Top

Hi Barbara - I look forward to getting to know Smith's work better.

Hi Tad - Oh, Jane Eyre will be around for a while. I'd be interested to see what you think of it, though.

181Berly
Mar 1, 4:38am Top

>168 BLBera: I get the financially independent part, but did he have to get disabled?! ; )

182BLBera
Edited: Mar 2, 3:12pm Top

Yes, so he was dependent on Jane. And some of his sight did come back.

In two weeks I'll be in Portland!

183charl08
Mar 2, 3:27pm Top

Ooh. Jealous! Bet it'll fly by. I'm really liking A Gentleman in Moscow but reading so slowly! Work has been busy busy and I've just felt like crawling into bed when I got home.

184BLBera
Mar 2, 6:26pm Top

Hi Charlotte - I was wondering if work would slow you; it doesn't seem to too much.

185charl08
Edited: Mar 3, 3:10am Top

Oh it does. I've had a couple of nights where I've just vegged out in front of the TV like a zombie. I need to get better at having more 'light' stuff around I think.

186Ameise1
Mar 3, 4:29am Top

Happy Friday, Beth.

187BLBera
Mar 3, 5:10pm Top

Charlotte - You've done gone through twice what I've read so far this year!

Thanks Barbara. Have a great weekend.

188Carmenere
Mar 3, 6:10pm Top

Happy weekend, Beth! I think we've all had our share of snow this year! Time for flowers and sunshine!

189msf59
Mar 3, 6:30pm Top

Happy Friday, Beth! It is supposed to warm up again over the weekend. I hope you get plenty of R & R in.

190Ameise1
Mar 4, 4:06am Top

Happy weekend, Beth. Sending lots of spring waves over the pond.

191DianaNL
Mar 4, 6:14am Top

192BLBera
Mar 4, 10:39am Top

Hi Lynda - I agree. We're expecting a warm weekend, so maybe the snow will melt.

Hi Mark - Happy weekend to you.

Thanks Barbara - I will take the spring waves.

Thanks Diana - I love the graphic.

193BLBera
Mar 4, 10:51am Top


21. The Woman Next Door is set in Capetown, South Africa, and is the story of two elderly ladies, Hortensia and Marion, who have been neighbors and enemies for twenty years. Marion is white and Hortensia is black, and although this is well after apartheid, Omotoso shows that while laws can change material situation, it is more difficult to change minds and hearts.

After the deaths of their husbands and an accident, Marion and Hortensia are forced to interact on a new level. Omotoso uses flashbacks to reveal the history of the two women, who are both great characters. One of the strengths of the novel is that fact that Omotoso does not make either character all good or all evil. Instead, we get complex characters in a complex situation.

I really enjoyed the novel -- great characters. Perhaps the ending was a little contrived, but still, this is recommended.

There are no reviews of this novel, so I will post it on the book page. It was a great start to my March reading. March is Women's History Month, and I will dedicate it to books by and about women.

Omotoso's bio is interesting. She was born in Barbados, raised in Nigeria and now lives in South Africa. Her character Hortensia had a similar background.

194lit_chick
Mar 4, 11:19am Top

The Woman Next Door sounds great, Beth, but for a somewhat contrived ending. Excellent review, as always.

195BLBera
Mar 4, 11:27am Top

Thanks Nancy. It is definitely worth a read.

196Ameise1
Mar 4, 5:45pm Top

>193 BLBera: Great review, Beth. I have to take a look at my library if they have a copy of it.

197cammykitty
Mar 4, 5:46pm Top

Great review of Autumn, and I'm curious on how she can make such a specific vote something more universal. The Woman Next Door goes on my WL. Years ago, when I first started the category thread, I had a category of South African novels and many of them were more depressing than Holocaust novels. This one sounds like it's in the middle ground, and I'll bet your contrived ending is because it is hard to mend that kind of difference convincingly.

As for your question way back at 120> , yes, it's great to read with them but whether or not they appreciate me depends on the day! On the whole, yes. They got more out of it because of me. For example, they couldn't understand why Vinnie the Italian gets treated with more violent prejudice than the African-American boy, so I asked them what they knew about Italians. Pizza, Lasagna, Spaghetti... They kept naming foods they liked and I asked so what would people in the 1950s have thought. Pizza, lasagna, spaghetti... I had to mention the mafia, and then they understood.

198BLBera
Mar 4, 7:49pm Top

Thanks Barbara. Good luck finding it.

Thanks Katie. I hear you. Some days I think I'm making a difference and other days, well, not so much.

199katiekrug
Mar 4, 7:55pm Top

The Woman Next Door sounds good, Beth. I will have to check my library.

200EBT1002
Edited: Mar 5, 12:48am Top

Hi Beth. I have Autumn sitting in my amazon shopping cart (sometimes things in that cart get purchased, sometimes they don't, but I like having them there). I loved How to Be Both.

The Woman Next Door is going on my wish list, too. Your thread is dangerous as usual.

I'm looking forward to seeing you in Portland later this month!

201Berly
Mar 5, 12:57am Top

Beth--Wish listing The Woman Next Door. I am not sure I want to be next to you in Powell's or not--you can probably talk me into so many books! Which would be god for me but not my wallet. LOL

202susanj67
Mar 5, 5:24am Top

>193 BLBera: Beth, that one sounds great! I've just reserved it. That's one from you and one from Charlotte today. So far. It's only 10.23. aaaaargh.

I hope you're not still snowed over.

203rosalita
Mar 5, 7:49am Top

>193 BLBera: That one sounds interesting, Beth. Thank you for posting your review — I've given it a thumb.

>200 EBT1002: Ha, I thought I was the only one who did that with their Amazon cart, Ellen! I currently have three things sitting there waiting for me to decide to buy them — none of them books, alas.

204BLBera
Mar 5, 9:52am Top

>199 katiekrug: I do recommend it, Katie. You will like Hortensia. After her husband died: "It was a miserable time, not because her husband had died but because most of the living -- people Hortensia had to associate with -- appeared to be numbskulls." Hmm - remind you of anybody?

>200 EBT1002: I have a couple of Smiths on my shelves, Ellen, and would like to get to them soon if they are as good as Autumn. It is a novel I would definitely read again. I think I read that it is part of a seasons quartet. I can't believe we will see each other face to face next week!

>201 Berly: :) I am GREAT at recommending books, Kim. Stick with me and you won't need to visit a bookstore for the rest of the year.

>202 susanj67: The snow is melting, Susan, and at least the streets and sidewalks are clear. Mostly. I'm happy to encourage your library habit. I don't even want to say how many books I have out of the library right now.

>203 rosalita: Thanks Julia. It was good, except I thought the ending was a little contrived. Great characters though.
I don't add things to my cart, but I do have a healthy Amazon wishlist.

Happy Sunday everyone.

205EBT1002
Mar 5, 11:26pm Top

>203 rosalita: Well, I feel a bit less alone now, Julia. I frequently put things in my amazon shopping cart and then leave them there. It's kind of like a "remember that you want this" thing. Of course, I know I can put them in my LT wish list and I can also put them in the "save for later" section of amazon, but it's interesting when I haven't been to amazon in a while to go there and see what I have in my cart!

Hi Beth. I hope you have a good week ahead of you. What are you reading as a follow up to The Woman Next Door? Something by or about women, I know.

I look forward to standing next to you in Powell's. Kim herself has nudged me into putting at least one (ha) book into my basket. SO fun.

206AMQS
Mar 6, 12:07am Top

Hi Beth! Ooh, you got me with Autumn. It's on my list now.

Had to laugh at your story in >128 BLBera:. We've been decorated countless times over our girls' childhoods. My memorable public experience came when we tried a potty-training video with Callia. It came with stickers that said "I'm a super-duper pooper!" You know, intended to reward the child who used the potty. Only Callia put it on my shoulder, where it stayed for awhile, including through a trip to the supermarket.

207PaulCranswick
Mar 6, 6:08am Top

>193 BLBera: That looks like a very good book, contrived ending or not, Beth.

Hope that you will have a great week. xx

208BLBera
Mar 6, 9:37am Top

Hi Ellen: See you next week! I can't wait. Right now I am reading Still Here, a novel about a group of Russian immigrants. On my e-reader, I'm reading Roxane Gay's essays in Bad Feminist. They are excellent, and I wish I had a paper copy. I know it would be a book I return to. So, maybe that will be on my Powell's wishlist. I'm always happy to put books in others' baskets. :) Have a great week.

Hi Anne - I love your "super-duper pooper" story! It's only a matter of time before I leave the house with my "pony tails." Autumn is lovely. I look forward to more works by Smith.

Hi Paul. Have a lovely week.

209BLBera
Edited: Mar 6, 7:20pm Top

I love Roxane Gay. I'm reading an essay about gender inequity in publishing.

Gay says, "The solutions are obvious. Stop making excuses. Stop saying women run publishing. Stop justifying the lack of parity in prominent publications that have the resources to address gender inequity. Stop parroting the weak notion that you're simply publishing the best writing, regardless. There is ample evidence of the excellence of women writers. Publish more women writers. If women aren't submitting to your publication or press, ask yourself why, deal with the answers even if those answers make you uncomfortable, and then reach out to women writers. If women don't respond to your solicitations, go find other women. Keep doing that, issue after issue after issue. Read more widely. Create more inclusive measures of excellence. Ensure that books by men and women are being reviewed in equal numbers. Nominate more deserving women for the important awards. Deal with your resentment. Deal with your biases. Vigorously the urge to dismiss the gender problem. Make the effort and make the effort and make the effort until you no longer need to, until we don't need to keep having this conversation.

Change requires intent and effort. It really is that simple."

She goes on to discuss the term "women's fiction." Love it.

I think I will need a paper copy of this book. It's a keeper.

I see this all the time in anthologies that publishers send me. I tell them if there are not equal numbers of women and men writers that I won't use it. I also want to see writers of color represented. I will keep doing that until I don't have to do it any more.

210vancouverdeb
Mar 6, 7:42pm Top

The Woman Next Door does sound very interesting, Beth. I don't think it is available here in anything but hardcover and not at my library. I'm quite keen to see what is on the Bailey's Womens fiction list.

211alcottacre
Mar 6, 7:47pm Top

Hello, Beth!

212lit_chick
Mar 6, 7:57pm Top

Go, Roxanne Gay: Make the effort and make the effort and make the effort until you no longer need to, until we don't need to keep having this conversation. Yes!

213BLBera
Mar 6, 8:43pm Top

It was good, Deborah. I got my copy from the library here.

Hi Stasia! Welcome. Nice to see you around here.

Yes, Nancy! That essay was excellent; I could have copied the entire thing.

214charl08
Mar 7, 1:14am Top

>209 BLBera: This is one of those issues that is so glaring when I think about it now I am shocked I didn't notice it before: the books reviewed, books available in the library, books on Netgalley. I positively select for women writers, and still end up with a rough balance between genders...

Helen Dunmore has a new one out, about a radical woman writer in the French revolutionary era, so I wonder if it will be on the fiction list.

215msf59
Mar 7, 7:05am Top

Morning Beth! Hope the week is off to a good start. I still have to read Roxanne Gay...sighs.

216BLBera
Mar 7, 9:20am Top

Hey Charlotte - VIDA counts reviews and bylines in various publications. While some are improving, there is still a pretty surprising lack of parity. If one looks at people of color, it's even greater.

Ooh, a new Helen Dunmore. I still have a couple of hers on my shelves that I haven't read. I'll have to check out the new one.

Good morning Mark. Yes, Gay is a winner. I loved her novel, and her essays are brilliant. I'm waiting to get a copy of her stories from the library.

217BLBera
Mar 7, 9:35am Top


22. Still Here is the story of four Russian friends and their lives in NYC after immigrating. While it was a pleasant enough read, it suffers from comparison with other novels about immigrants, Behold the Dreamers and The Book of Unknown Americans, to name a couple. It's a quick, light read.

Vika, Regina, Sergey and Vadik are in their late thirties and, after many years in the States, are still searching for their version of the American Dream. They are not sure where they belong: "For most people, the choice of apartment was determined by their financial situation, social status, and personality. But for immigrants it was more challenging. They couldn't figure out what their social status was, their financial future was murky, and relying on one's personality seemed too frivolous." Although we get occasional insights into their struggles, overall, this seemed like a superficial exploration. I didn't get a sense of how they fit into a larger community, and it was unclear to me how the whole social media aspect fit.

While there are flashes of humor, and Sergey's idea for an app, The Virtual Grave, was original, the novel very much focuses on the four friends, and the characters themselves don't have enough depth to carry the novel. I doubt I'll remember them for long.

Next: New Boy, the latest Hogarth. This is a retelling of Othello by Tracy Chevalier.

219alcottacre
Mar 7, 8:19pm Top

>217 BLBera: Sounds like I can give that one a pass!

220BLBera
Mar 8, 9:10am Top

It's not horrible, Stasia. I was just expecting something more, I guess.

221Carmenere
Edited: Mar 8, 9:17am Top

>218 BLBera: Good luck on the Baily List, Beth! I'm going to wait for the short list as I'm tied up with the Tournament of Books. Sigh! How do we ever get anything off the shelf with so many good lists?!

OHOHOHOH. I'm wishlisting both Autumn and The Woman Next Door

222BLBera
Mar 8, 5:00pm Top

Good question, Lynda. You've been doing pretty well, haven't you? Has the ToB offiicially started? I'll have to take a look.

Both Autumn and The Woman Next Door are excellent.

223charl08
Mar 8, 5:12pm Top

I have a preview of The Lesser Bohemians but there's something wrong with it - every double F has been removed. It was OK to start with but just got really annoying! I have had a look online because I really liked her earlier book and it's about the same characters (or some of them) but will wait I think as it is still at hardback prices.

I'd like to read all the first novels though.

224BLBera
Mar 8, 5:15pm Top

I'm laughing at the missing f's, Charlotte. That would get annoying. Oh, maybe I should read her first book before this one.

Yes, I do want to read the first novels. The Grant looks good, too. I think you read that one?

225banjo123
Mar 9, 12:43am Top

Hi Beth! I really need to read Roxane Gay. I haven't yet.

I didn't much like The Lesser Bohemians; I did not know that it was related to her earlier book. It did seem complete in itself---just too stream of consciousness for me.

226BLBera
Mar 9, 12:00pm Top

You would love Gay, Rhonda. Her essays are brilliant.

Hmm - I have heard some divergent opinions about The Lesser Bohemians; I might wait on that one. There are several on the list that sound good.

See you next week!

227BLBera
Edited: Mar 9, 12:26pm Top


23. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier is the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a retelling of Othello. Chevalier has set the story in an elementary school in the early 1970s. The action takes place over the course of one day, the day a new boy comes to school.

Othello is a powerful story. Setting it in a sixth-grade class makes it even more disturbing. Chevalier does a good job with the characters. Osei, the new boy who is black, and Ian, the school bully, are especially well drawn. We can clearly see the sense of isolation that O feels, surrounded by white kids. He thinks of his visits to Ghana: "Osei always sensed...the ease of being among people who looked like him. His people, who did not stare at him or pass judgment on his skin color." This is a bright, likable young man, who is under a lot of pressure. Casting Ian (Iago) as a bully also makes sense. Ian has to be the most powerful kid in the class. When, Dee, the most popular girl, is friendly to O, Ian has to destroy him. As in the play, we don't see much of a motive; it's mostly because he can.

Chevalier stays true to the spirit of the play, maintaining a constant tension. And after spending a day with the characters on the playground and in the classroom, the ending is even more shocking.

228charl08
Edited: Mar 9, 3:25pm Top

Crumbs that sounds like a heavy read. Othello was one of the plays we did for A level, so kind of ho hum about picking this one up. I like the idea of knowing a bit more of the Shakespeare, but at the same time just associate this with exams!

229BLBera
Mar 9, 1:35pm Top

It's interesting, Charlotte. I was dreading picking this up, knowing the story. It's the first tragedy the Hogarth series has done. I'm wondering now, about what it will be like to read the others. Macbeth and Hamlet are yet to come.

It is a tragedy. Now I need something light.

230ffortsa
Mar 9, 5:19pm Top

>227 BLBera: Interesting. Jim and I saw a production of Othello recently in which Daniel Craig played Iago in such a way as to make him out a thug. In the army environment of most of the play, it makes perfect sense.

231thornton37814
Mar 9, 6:57pm Top

>227 BLBera: I'm reading that one within the next week or so. I re-read Othello in preparation for it.

232BLBera
Mar 9, 10:01pm Top

>230 ffortsa: It sounds like an interesting production, Judy. That's one thing I love about Shakespeare. Every production is different. Our students just did a good job with Macbeth, a very hard play to stage.

Hi Lori - I'll watch for your comments. I thought Chevalier did a fine job.

233BLBera
Mar 9, 10:06pm Top


24. Garden of Lamentations is the new Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery. Kincaid is still troubled by the events in the previous novel, and it's taking a toll on his marriage and other relationships. When his previous boss returns and gets in touch with him, Kincaid realizes he has to investigate and find the corruption inside the police.

At the same time, Gemma is trying to solve the murder of a young nanny, in a kind of locked room mystery.

As always, kids, dogs, cats and family complicate the lives of Duncan and Gemma. Intricately plotted, this was hard to put down. Will Duncan get to the bottom of this? Read it and find out.

Good series, still going strong.

234DeltaQueen50
Mar 9, 10:51pm Top

Hi Beth, just wandering through trying not to take any BB. I'm following the Tournament of Books as well even though I haven't read any of the books, this tournament often helps decide me whether or not to add a book to my wishlist.

235vancouverdeb
Mar 10, 12:45am Top

Well, I gave in and purchased The Woman Next Door and The Dark Circle from the long list. Both are coming from the UK, so it will be a month or so until I get them.

236katiekrug
Mar 10, 4:35pm Top

I picked up Little Deaths in a Kindle sale a couple of days before the Bailey's announcement - it looks very good.

I really want to read The New Boy. I've liked the Chevaliers I've read.

Have a great weekend, Beth!

237BLBera
Mar 10, 5:28pm Top

Would you like my copy of New Boy Katie? PM me your address and I'll send it.

238katiekrug
Mar 10, 5:31pm Top

Done!

239Donna828
Mar 10, 10:17pm Top

Beth, you got me with your review of The Woman Next Door. It also helps that it is on the Bailey's (Orange) List. I am so impressed with the amount and quality of your reading already this year. I may have to live vicariously through you. I'd definitely like to sneak on the plane with you when you fly to Portland. That should be a wonderful meetup. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it. Have a great weekend. More snow for you?

240BLBera
Mar 11, 10:29am Top

>238 katiekrug: I'll get it to you, Katie. It might be next week.

Thanks Donna. I am looking forward to the meet up. Your reading hasn't been too shabby, either. I think we're expecting snow on Sunday night, just in time to make the commute on Monday a nightmare. It has turned cold again, though, so I guess we have to wait a while for spring.

241AMQS
Mar 11, 1:59pm Top

Portland LT meetup? How wonderful! When?

242BLBera
Mar 11, 2:55pm Top

Hi Anne - I'm going to be in Portland next week for a conference. I can't wait.

243Ameise1
Mar 11, 3:06pm Top

Happy weekend, Beth. I went to the library and took home Oil on Water. I'll read it later this month.

244BLBera
Mar 11, 5:11pm Top

I hope your weekend is wonderful, Barbara. I'll watch for your comments on Oil on Water.

245BLBera
Mar 11, 5:17pm Top


25. A Cast of Vultures is the latest in the series about editor, Samantha Clair. Sam would fit right in here on LT: "There are the authors of books you admire, but never manage to sell in any number, no matter how hard you try. {it is, tragically, still illegal to force people to buy books at gunpoint."

Besides an engaging character and the fascinating glimpses into publishing, Flanders is pretty good at plot as well. In this one, after a series of fires in Sam's neighborhood and a neighbor who disappeared, Sam is once again sucked into an investigation that puts her in danger. We might have to suspend our disbelief a bit, but the first person narration, Sam's commentary on events and people, make it easy to do. An enjoyable series.

246Berly
Mar 11, 5:31pm Top

Hi Beth! My list for Powell's is growing, in no small part thanks to you. I would really like to get going on some of these Hogarth Shakespeare series, and of course, that will mean I want to re-read the originals first. Can't wait to see you next week.

247lit_chick
Mar 11, 7:33pm Top

Great quote Beth, I had a chuckle: it is, tragically, still illegal to force people to buy books at gunpoint.

248PaulCranswick
Mar 11, 8:30pm Top

>245 BLBera: That looks great fun Beth. With a quote like that we are clearly dealing with an author on the wavelength of many here.

249BLBera
Mar 11, 9:40pm Top

Kim - See you soon. I've given all the Hogarth books I had away, or I would bring you them.

I know, Nancy, Sam would fit in around here.

It is fun, Paul. Have a great weekend.

250LizzieD
Mar 11, 10:30pm Top

No hope of catching up, but I love Scout as literary critic and hair stylist!
I have New Boy coming to me from ER, and I'm happy even more because of your review.
You know I'm also a lover of D. Crombie and look forward to catching up on that one!
Happy to hear you reading and thinking, Beth!

251BLBera
Mar 12, 12:00pm Top

Hi Peggy - Yes, Scout is quite the girl. She tells me that she is my girl when her mom is at work.

I'll be anxious to see what you think of New Boy; Carrie didn't like it as much as I did.

The only bad thing about finishing the Crombie is that now there is a wait for the next one. :(

Thanks for stopping by and happy Sunday.

252souloftherose
Mar 12, 2:00pm Top

Hi Beth - happy Sunday!

>114 BLBera: Today Will Be Different sounds interesting and you've reminded me that I never got round to reading the Semple that was longlisted for the Bailey's/Orange Prize, Where'd You Go Bernadette?.

253BLBera
Mar 12, 3:54pm Top

Thanks Heather. I liked both Semples. Bernadette was more entertaining, I think, while Today Will Be Different, while amusing in parts, had a little more substance.

254charl08
Mar 12, 5:46pm Top

>245 BLBera: You have reminded me I still have this to look forward to.

I just cracked open Another Brooklyn. It's a beautiful small hardback.

255banjo123
Mar 12, 6:39pm Top

Hooray! Can't wait for the meet-up. And I have to look up the new Hogarth Shakespeare. I am on a mission to read them all.

256msf59
Mar 12, 6:49pm Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. Hope you had a nice weekend. Boo to the incoming snow. Noooooo....

257BLBera
Mar 13, 7:17pm Top

>254 charl08: Happy to help, Charlotte.

>255 banjo123: I am so excited, Rhonda. I hope weather, etc., cooperates. I can't wait to meet you. I've read all of the Hogarths thus far. (It helps to get them as ER books).

>256 msf59: Happy Monday to you, Mark. Yes, the commute was slow this morning, but I left early, so it wasn't too bad. And someone shoveled my sidewalk for me, so I only had to do the driveway when I got home.

258BLBera
Mar 13, 7:24pm Top


26. Bad Feminist - I love Gay. In this collection of essays, she covers pop culture, Tyler Perry (not a fan), Amy Winehouse (a fan) and reality TV, as well as weightier topics such as reproductive rights, rape, race and gender. She thoughtfully discusses the meaning of feminism and the baggage attached. She is honest and writes clearly, beautifully, and thoughtfully. I love the evenings I've spent in her company and am anxious to read more by her. All women should read this collection.

259charl08
Mar 14, 1:27pm Top

>258 BLBera: This didn't catch my attention and went back to the library unread. You make me think I should try again... darn it...

260vancouverdeb
Mar 14, 7:51pm Top

I enjoyed Another Brooklyn, Charlotte. I am sure that you will too.

261PaulCranswick
Mar 14, 7:54pm Top

>258 BLBera: I love the evenings I've spent in her company

I like that, Beth. I do think that if you are going to enjoy a book of essays, some empathy with the writer helps.

262alcottacre
Mar 14, 7:57pm Top

> 227 I did not know that Chevalier had a series retelling Shakespeare's plays. I will have to check it out.

263katiekrug
Mar 14, 8:11pm Top

>240 BLBera: - No hurry. I'm only about halfway through The Chalk Pit but should finish it before I leave Sunday. But I doubt I'll get into the mail until I'm back on the 28th!

Bad Feminist goes on the list.

264Berly
Mar 15, 9:47am Top

>258 BLBera: Does that make me a good feminist if I want to read Bad Feminist? : )

Have a safe flight!

265BLBera
Mar 15, 12:52pm Top

>259 charl08: I loved it from the first page, Charlotte, so if it didn't call to you, maybe not?

>260 vancouverdeb: Hi Deborah.

>261 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul - Yes it helps if we are kindred spirits. :)

>262 alcottacre: Hi Stasia - I'm so glad to see you around here. Chevalier just has New Boy. Hogarth publishing is sponsoring a retelling of different plays by various authors. I've liked most of them.

>263 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. Have a safe trip. I hope you manage to have some fun. All work and no play...you know. You will love Bad Feminist.

>264 Berly: Hi Kim - Thanks. You understand that I will be forcing you to buy Bad Feminist....

Well, off to Portland. I might see a few LTers while I'm there. :)

266charl08
Mar 15, 2:25pm Top

Phew. One I don't have to read then! Thanks Beth. Have a wonderful time in Portland.

267Crazymamie
Mar 15, 3:07pm Top

Safe travels, Beth! Have a fabulous time!

268BLBera
Mar 18, 12:19am Top

Thanks Charlotte. I just had a wonderful dinner with Kim and Judy. Another meet up tomorrow.

Thanks Mamie.

269Carmenere
Mar 18, 8:21am Top

Hey Beth! Have a great time in Portland and enjoy the meetups!

270BLBera
Mar 18, 8:40am Top

Thanks Lynda.

271Ameise1
Mar 18, 10:08am Top

Enjoy the meet-up, Beth.

272BLBera
Mar 18, 10:49am Top

Thanks Barbara. Have a lovely weekend.

273drneutron
Mar 18, 12:52pm Top

And send pictures!

274BLBera
Mar 19, 12:11am Top

Kim is in charge of the photos, Jim.

My Powell's haul:
Opened Ground
A Climate of Fear
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The Widow's House
The Black House
The Atomic Weight of Love
Private Novelist

It was wonderful to meet Judy, Ellen, Juli, Deborah and Mr. Deborah (Gil). We had a great afternoon, starting with the Portland Art Museum, followed by a couple of hours at Powell's and then dinner.

275charl08
Mar 19, 2:03am Top

Sounds like a successful trip, Beth! So glad you all got to meet up.

276Ameise1
Mar 19, 4:20am Top

So glad that you had such a wonderful meet-up. I've read Blackhouse. It's a good start into the Lewis trilogy. The other two of this serie are still waiting to be read.
Happy Sunday, Beth.

277PaulCranswick
Mar 19, 11:23am Top

I saw the photos of the meet-up over at Kim's new thread, Beth. Looks like a good 'un and seven new books tells its own story.

278susanj67
Mar 19, 11:38am Top

Beth, I've also seen the pictures and it looks like a great meetup! And yay for the book haul :-)

279msf59
Mar 19, 1:44pm Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. I am so glad you were able to make the Portland Meet-Up. Such good people and the photos were lovely. Now, if you could only make the upcoming Chicago Meet-Up. Just sayin'...

280EBT1002
Mar 19, 2:21pm Top

Beth, I hope your day of traveling goes smoothly! It was so great meeting you in person and I'm really glad to have purchased my paper copy of Bad Feminist.

Good luck with that 8am class on Monday!

281DeltaQueen50
Mar 19, 2:40pm Top

Hi Beth, your meetup looks like a lot of fun! I love Roxanne Gay as well so Bad Feminist is definitely getting a nudge up the list!

282alcottacre
Mar 19, 3:19pm Top

>265 BLBera: Thanks for the info, Beth!

283BLBera
Mar 19, 4:01pm Top

>275 charl08: It was really fun, Charlotte. Now I have to change my mindset and get ready for class tomorrow morning.

>276 Ameise1: It's good to hear that you also liked The Black House, Barbara. Happy Sunday to you as well.

>277 PaulCranswick: We did have a great time, Paul. I look forward to more of those. I want to move to Portland, so I can go to Powell's regularly.

>278 susanj67: Hi Susan. I am really far behind, but I'll stop over to see what you are up to later.

>279 msf59: I wish, Mark! I would love to have a Chicago meet-up. Maybe next year.

>280 EBT1002: I hope your trip home did not involve running into any runners, Ellen. :) Thanks. I will need luck. I feel disoriented. It will take me a couple of days to get back to the routine. And I just realized, I didn't pick up a paper copy of Bad Feminist for myself!

>281 DeltaQueen50: I had a wonderful time, Judy. The West Coast group is great. I encourage you to nudge Bad Feminist.

>282 alcottacre: You are very welcome, Stasia.

Well, have to get ready for school and get some food. I will visit and try to catch up later.

284arubabookwoman
Mar 19, 7:15pm Top

Hi Beth--It was great to meet you (and Heidi) yesterday, and I hope we can do it again soon (maybe in Seattle). Powells was wonderful, and dinner was great too.

Hope your trip home was quiet and uneventful. We went over to Powells again this morning before leaving, and I bought a few more goodies, so I may end up with the prize for the most books purchased. :) We are back home now, and it is a beautiful, sunny day in Portland and in Seattle. Did you have rain the whole time you were in Portland?

285BLBera
Mar 19, 7:34pm Top

Deborah, I'm so jealous that you visited Powell's again. I'll stop over to see what you picked up. I would love to visit Seattle again. The last time I was there was for another conference. I think it was in the fall, and I remember it was very rainy. There was one day when it didn't rain in Portland, but at least it wasn't snow.

The trip back went quickly; we arrived early, which was nice.

I stopped in to see my girls, and now I am ready for a nap, but if I do take one, I won't sleep tonight.

286banjo123
Mar 19, 7:40pm Top

Hi Beth! I was very sorry to miss meeting you, but glad you had fun in Portland. Today, it is sunny, wouldn't you know?

287BLBera
Mar 19, 8:12pm Top

Hi Rhonda - I was so sorry you missed the meet-up. I hope you're feeling better. I'm glad you had some sun today. Still, I enjoyed Portland, what I saw of it, very much. I'll be back.

288Carmenere
Mar 20, 8:29am Top

Glad you enjoyed the meetup, Beth! Nice book haul to boot! Off to Kim's to check on the pics.
Have a great Monday! *should one put great and Monday in the same sentence*

289Crazymamie
Mar 20, 11:15am Top

Morning, Beth! Your meet-up looks like a fabulous success - loved the photos on Kim's thread. And a very nice haul - well done. Hoping the week is kind to you.

290BLBera
Mar 20, 2:31pm Top

Hi Lynda - It was so much fun. Kim and I have some more photo plans for the future. :)

Hi Mamie - The meet-up was great. Have a wonderful week.

291charl08
Mar 20, 4:22pm Top

Hope going back to school today wasn't too tricky.I've just got the third Judith Flanders book from the library. Perfect timing!

292SuziQoregon
Mar 20, 5:41pm Top

Beth - It was so nice to meet you. I'm going to be stalking your thread now because I could tell that we have overlapping tastes in books.

Hope you survived your early class today without nodding off.

293BLBera
Mar 20, 5:53pm Top

Hi Charlotte - School was fine. I can't wait to hear what you think of the new Flanders. I want to read some of her nonfiction.

Hi Juli - It was so nice to meet you. Stalk away. I did fine, but my students seemed tired.

294BLBera
Edited: Mar 21, 10:36pm Top


28. American Street is a young adult novel about Fabiola Toussaint. At 15, she is coming to the United States from Haiti with her mother. Her mother is detained at the New York airport, and Fabiola is sent alone to her aunt and cousins in Detroit. Her mother was detained because fifteen years earlier, she had overstayed her visa so that Fabiola would be born in the States.

There's culture shock as she settles into the house in Detroit, but she has the same concerns that all teenage girls have, boys, friends. This was the part most definitely targeted to teens, and the bit I found tedious, but I'm not the target audience here.

What I found fascinating was the fact that Fabiola practices Vodou. When she arrives, she sets up her altar and prays to get her mother back. Besides being an immigrant story, Zoboi also shows us Detroit and what few choices there are for poor black youth.

I liked the novel, Zoboi's first, and am interested to see what she does next. I wonder whether she'll continue with young adult fiction.

Next: The Dark Flood Rises, and of course, I'm continuing with The Defender, which is great, just very long. I'm up to the Korean War now.

I'm also reading The Round House with one class and Othello for another.

295lkernagh
Mar 24, 1:53pm Top

Hello Beth! Stopping by and stunned to discover that I am a whole thread behind here! Okay.... not really that surprising as I have been absolutely abysmal when it comes to visiting threads this year.

I have been eyeballing Today Will be Different as I really enjoyed Semple's debut novel, Bernadette. Your review is enticing me to see if I can her latest book into my reading queue.

At least I made it over to check out what you have been up to and to wish you a Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend. ;-)

296Carmenere
Mar 24, 2:07pm Top

Happy Friday, Beth!

297BLBera
Mar 25, 9:45am Top

No worries, Lori. I am behind as well. Life is busy right now. Happy weekend to you as well.

Have a great weekend, Lynda.

298PaulCranswick
Mar 25, 6:08pm Top

>297 BLBera: And I am another one behind but trying to catch up and wish you a glorious weekend, Beth.

299charl08
Mar 25, 6:23pm Top

>294 BLBera: This is one I want to read.

I've not had much luck with Drabble. Perhaps I should try again. I have The Pure Gold Baby on the shelf with the other to be reads...

300EBT1002
Mar 26, 11:05am Top

Good morning, Beth. I hope your week back wasn't too taxing. Our river cruise was interesting. I enjoyed spending time with my sister, of course, and the relaxing aspect of it was wonderful. The route is not one I would recommend. We barely got out of the part of the river so heavily dedicated to shipping and lined with concrete plants and oil refineries. I learned a lot just by watching so that is good, but I would have liked more of the sort of scenery we got once we got north of Baton Rouge. Also, I wish the plantation tours (I went on two of the three offered) acknowledged the slave history more fully. One did an okay job but the second one I went on barely mentioned the fact that all those difficult chores were not done by the "lady of the house." Still, the grounds and houses were lovely.

I finished A Gentleman in Moscow on the plane last night. I'm giving it five stars (probably really 4.75 but I don't operate in less than halves). Have you read it yet? I know that you have dedicated March solely to women authors but I do recommend AGiM. His turns of phrase are at times stunning.

301BLBera
Mar 26, 11:17am Top

Thanks Paul.

I think you would like it, Charlotte. I am liking the Drabble a lot, but there is a lot of stuff about aging that speaks to me.

Hi Ellen. I'm glad you had good company and got some relaxation on your river cruise.

Lynda kindly sent me a copy of A Gentleman in Moscow, so I will try to get to it soon and pass it on. My reading has slowed since I got back, reading Othello with one of my classes and The Round House with another, plus grading, class prep, etc.

I also want to read another Erdrich; I think I might do Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country. First, though I have to finish The Dark Flood Rises.

I'm thinking for your religion thread read of The Chibok Girls or Norse Mythology. I have both from the library.

302EBT1002
Mar 26, 11:33am Top

I read The Peppered Moth a couple of years ago and enjoyed it although I wasn't sure I "got" everything. Interestingly, the story of the Peppered Moth in Manchester came up in A Gentleman in Moscow and, as is generally true of me, now that I have heard the story in some context twice I feel that I will remember it and it is part of my cultural vocabulary. Anyway, I imagine that the theme of aging would resonate for me, as well.

I'm back to work tomorrow and I predict it will be off and running, busy as usual. I did a pretty good job of ignoring email while I was on vacation but I know I'll pay for it this week.

Meanwhile, it's a Sunday of laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, etc. And keeping Abby company.
:-)

303ronincats
Mar 26, 11:50am Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. Hope you have some relaxing and reading planned.

304BLBera
Mar 26, 1:05pm Top

>302 EBT1002: Interesting how we make connections between books. There is a lot to think about in this Drabble as well. It's not a fast read.

Thanks for reminding me; I have to do some bill paying.

Hi Roni. Thanks. I had a baby shower for my niece yesterday, so today I am just poking around. Plus, I think I'm getting a cold. Lots of tea and honey for me.

305BLBera
Edited: Mar 27, 8:40am Top


29. The Dark Flood Rises drew me in from the first lines: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself and in this world will prove to be 'You blood old fool' or, perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of the night, 'You fucking idiot." Fran Stubbs, in her seventies, is struggling to stay busy and relevant in a world that tends to dismiss the elderly. She still works, inspecting senior care facilities. Her work takes her all over England.

In the course of the novel, we also meet Fran's friends, her ex-husband, her children, and other connections. This wonderful novel shows the challenges of aging. Toward the end, after the death of some friends, Fran wonders whether she can keep it up: "She's in despair, but she can't help but be a little interested in what is going on out there, and the manner in which it's being relayed to her. It's part of her and she's part of it. Her life has been full of failure and defeat and triviality and small concerns, and at times she fears it is ending sadly. Her courage is running out, her energy is running out. She has lived vicariously, in the small concerns of others. The larger themes are leaving her."

As I see my parents going to more and more funerals, I see similar concerns. Wonderful, honest novel.

I think I need something lighter next.

306EBT1002
Mar 26, 10:23pm Top

Have you read the Maisie Dobbs series? (and forgive me for not remembering)

307banjo123
Mar 26, 11:08pm Top

Hi Beth! Hope your cold gets better quick.

308Crazymamie
Mar 27, 6:36am Top

Morning, Beth! Lovely review of the Drabble - you should think about posting that as there are only two reviews on the book page and one of them is "Couldn't finish." If you do decide to post it, I shall thumb.

Hoping the week is kind to you.

309charl08
Mar 27, 7:39am Top

>305 BLBera: Well, this is calling me, but the mean** library won't let me reserve any more books.* I'll just stick it on the wishlist. The quote made me snort over my lunch.

*there may be a good reason for that, of course....
** or sensibly restrictive? Quite possibly...

I'm feeling the gardening today: one day I'm going to remember that bending over for long periods when I haven't been gardening for ages is not a great idea. Lovely yellow tulips are opening out, which makes me quite happy when I look out at the new border.

310lit_chick
Mar 27, 11:13am Top

Excellent review of The Dark Flood Rises, Beth. Great quotes you've included.

311cammykitty
Edited: Mar 27, 11:39am Top

>209 BLBera: Great quote, and sadly, I thought we were doing better about that but since I'm trying to focus on women writers this month, I'm noticing we aren't nearly there yet. I was standing in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of B&N the other day and found an overabundance of male writers and only Ann Lecky writing hard science fiction. As for the fantasy, there were more women but they were writing mostly urban romance which doesn't appeal to me much, but anything "romance" is supposed to be a female author, to the point that I'm sure there are men hiding behind female pen names on those shelves.
The Dark Flood Rises looks fantastic, but perhaps something to read in daylight.

312streamsong
Mar 27, 11:43am Top

Hi Beth - I'm sorry I couldn't make it to Portland. I would have loved to meet you and the rest of the crew that were there.

I haven't read anything by Margaret Drabble and I know I need to correct that.

American Street also sounds quite interesting. I've added it to my 'if I ever get caught up, I want to read this' list.

313BLBera
Mar 27, 7:11pm Top

Visitors! It's getting time for a new thread, but I don't know that I'll have time until the weekend.

>306 EBT1002: Yes, Ellen, I have been a long-time fan of Maisie Dobbs. I haven't read her latest, but I recently read the two before this one.

>307 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. I am feeling miserable. I'm blaming the air on the plane. It seems like I always pick up something when I fly. But there is a lot going around here as well.

>308 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie. I will tweak and post it.

314PaulCranswick
Mar 27, 7:23pm Top

Last year Peggy had the highest average thread size per completed threads and this year you are cruising to victory in this particular category!

Look forward to your new thread, Beth. xx

315BLBera
Mar 27, 7:25pm Top

>308 Crazymamie: Done, Mamie.

>309 charl08: Hi Charlotte - That mean old library. I don't think there are limits for physical books in my library. I think I can only reserve ten e-books, though. Drabble has been hit or miss with me in the past, but I loved this one. Great characters and a topic I think more of as my parents age.

>310 lit_chick: Thanks Nancy. Drabble can write. There were many wonderful moments in this book.

>311 cammykitty: Hi Katie - I know. Feminism is important. There is still no parity in publishing.

>312 streamsong: Next time, Janet. You need to take care of yourself first. How are the eyes?

I started The Madwoman Upstairs in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn't sleep.

This cold is wearing me out.

316BLBera
Mar 27, 7:26pm Top

Hi Paul - We were cross posting. The numbers just crept up. I will probably start a new one at the end of the week.

317nittnut
Mar 27, 9:03pm Top

Hi! Stopping by to sort of catch up and to wish you a happy week. :)

318katiekrug
Mar 29, 8:51am Top

All caught up with you, Beth. I think I took a BB on the Drabble...

Hope you successfully fend off the cold!

319BLBera
Mar 29, 10:20am Top

Thanks Jenn. I hope you are all unpacked. :)

Hi Katie: Welcome back. The cold is at the miserable stage, but I'll live. The Drabble is great; I would be interested in the reactions of younger people.

320BLBera
Mar 29, 11:52am Top


31. The Madwoman Upstairs was a fun homage to the Brontës. Samantha Whipple, the protagonist, is the lone remaining descendent of the family. She has very definite opinions about reading and about the famous sisters: "I wish people would stop publishing their opinions on the Brontës. New books did nothing but feed an increasingly delusional public imagination."

After being raised and home schooled by her eccentric father, Samantha has few social skills. She is also very angry with her father for dying. When she arrives in Oxford to study literature, she finds that she still has something to learn about reading.

This is a fun book, and Brontë fans will enjoy Samantha's ideas about the sisters.

Now, I really must make the push to finish The Defender, which I started to read for Black History month.

321lit_chick
Mar 29, 12:07pm Top

Definitely sounds like a fun read, Beth! I got such a chuckle out of this: "I wish people would stop publishing their opinions on the Brontës. New books did nothing but feed an increasingly delusional public imagination."

322charl08
Edited: Mar 29, 2:31pm Top

>320 BLBera: Just read the opening story in Kafka in Bronteland. I think I'm going to like this collection.

323BLBera
Mar 29, 2:53pm Top

Hi Nancy - The protagonist had a very distinctive voice. I did get several chuckles in the course of the book.

Hi Charlotte - Maybe I should stick to the Brontë theme for a while. I'll have to check out the short stories.

324Berly
Mar 29, 3:02pm Top

Hi Beth! Glad you enjoyed The Madwoman Upstairs. I just finished another Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which I enjoyed less. A lot less.

Happy Wednesday!

325BLBera
Mar 29, 5:35pm Top

It was a fun read, just what I needed, Kim. I enjoyed her comments on Anne, though. I am tempted to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall next.

I hope your pneumonia is under control. Are you feeling better?

As you can see, I am in the need of a new thread. I'm thinking Friday afternoon?

326EBT1002
Mar 29, 9:29pm Top

Hi Beth. I'm not pretending to catch up on threads but I wanted to say that I'm reading LaRose (thank you!) and I just want your thoughts, whatever you feel you can share without spoilers, about Wolfred, Mackinnon, and the girl. I'm on page 128 and trying to figure out how this side-plot fits.

Also, we watched the PBS show about the Brontës (what a brother) and it has made me want to read at least one work by each sister. Of course I have read Jane Eyre and I will do a reread of it. But I have added The Tenant of Wildfell Hall to my wish list. I'm not sure what I will read by Emily....

327ronincats
Mar 29, 10:14pm Top

The Madwoman Upstairs sounds like fun, along the lines of Shannon Hale's Austenland: A Novel. The library has multiple copies and I've just ordered one.

328Carmenere
Mar 30, 9:33am Top

Hi there, Beth! I missed the Brontes on PBS. I'll make a note for this Sunday. The Madwoman Upstairs sounds like a book I need to check on at the library.
Enjoy a wonderful Thursday!

329BLBera
Mar 30, 10:02am Top

Ellen - Are you referring to the part about the students who escape from school? I don't remember the names. Sorry.

I missed the PBS! I will watch it online. Thanks for reminding. I know I even wrote it down somewhere so I wouldn't forget.

Hi Roni - I remember I looked at Austenland at one point. The Lowell book is fun; the protagonist has some unique ideas about the sisters.

Lynda - I missed it too! I will try to catch it online. Happy Thursday to you.

330EBT1002
Mar 30, 10:12am Top

Hi Beth. I'm not actually sure what my question was. I kept reading last night and I think I figured out that "the girl" is perhaps the original, ancestral LaRose. She and Wolfred and "the dog" appear to be fleeing Mackinnon, whom they have beheaded? It's confusing. And I know this is part of Erdrich's signature style -- weaving ancient mystical and/or dream-like aspects into the narrative. I'm hanging in there but I just feel a bit at sea about what is happening in those sections of the novel.

I'm off to work. Have a great day!

331BLBera
Mar 30, 6:48pm Top

Yes, now I remember. You are right about the identity of the girl. It's weird because I've read most of her books more than once and have taught several of them, so I have a pretty good memory of events. But LaRose I have just read once.

Have a great day.

My cold is better, so I am happy, and tomorrow is a Scout day.

332Berly
Mar 30, 10:19pm Top

Not reading the spoilers because I am only on page 67....but I know who Ellen is referring to. Off to set up a recording of the Brontës on PBS!!

333LizzieD
Mar 30, 10:56pm Top

Wow! Meet-up and Powells! You did really well.
I missed the PBS Brontes too - maybe I can catch it archived online later.
Have a great weekend - read more! Grade less!

334EBT1002
Mar 30, 11:53pm Top

Friday is a Scout day! Hooray! Enjoy enjoy enjoy.

335EBT1002
Mar 30, 11:54pm Top

Oh, and this morning on the train I started the chapter that is set in the boarding school. So now I know of what you were speaking.
:-)

336charl08
Mar 31, 2:03am Top

Hope you have a wonderful day with Scout. I think I might just sleep now read this weekend. It feels like it gas been a long one. Great to read the Erdrich discussion here. I galloped through LaRose and should probably go back to it - maybe if I see a paperback deal.

337Berly
Mar 31, 2:39am Top

>331 BLBera: >330 EBT1002: Still haven't read the spoiler because I am only on p.111, but at the top of p. 104, her identity is revealed: Before they took LaRose to the Ravich House last fall, Landreaux and Emmaline and spoken his name. It was the same given to each LaRose. Mirage. Ombanitemagad. The original name of Mink's daughter. That name would protect him from the unknown, from what had been let loose with the accident."

Of course, now I want to know what happened!!

Happy Scout Day!!

338BLBera
Mar 31, 9:30am Top

>332 Berly: I watched it, Kim, and it was great. I want to go and reread the complete Bronte works.

Thanks Peggy. I hope to catch up with grading this weekend, but maybe I can get some reading in.

Happy Friday, Ellen. It looks like you survived another week. Now I think I might have to reread LaRose... I think I'm going to pick up another Erdrich to keep you and Kim company.

Thanks Charlotte. I know what you mean about LaRose.

>337 Berly: Are you there yet, Kim?

339BLBera
Mar 31, 8:11pm Top

Time for a new thread.

This topic was continued by Beth's Books in 2017 - Part 3.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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